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MX News Update 2024

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Ralston Valley girls soccer escapes tough play-off opener

Simply put, Ralston Valley junior Raleigh Greason is unstoppable.

This season’s leading Class 5A girls soccer scorer put a trio of goals into the back of the net during the postseason opener Tuesday night at the North Area Athletic Complex. Greason – 32 goals this season – converted a pair of corner kicks and sealed the win with a rare empty-net goal in the final seconds.

“Reset situations are a big part of the game,” Greason said of the two corner kicks she scored on. “If I can’t bend it in, I know one of my teammates is going to get a head scratch on it.”

No. 5 seed Ralston Valley escaped with a 3-1 victory over No. 28 Cherokee Trail. The Mustangs (13-2-1 record) will face No. 21 Highlands Ranch (8-6-2) in the round of 16 on Friday, May 10 at 6:00 PM in the NAAC.

The Falcons upset No. 12 Denver East 2-0 on Tuesday.

“Coming into this game, we weren’t playing our best,” Greason said. “I know we can do it on Friday.”

It was a bit of a tough first round game for the 5A Jeffco League champions. Greason scored its first corner goal in the seventh minute, but Cherokee Trail (5-8-3) responded when sophomore Ayanna Mackey’s centering pass deflected off a Mustang into the goal in the ninth minute to make it 1-1. .

Ralston Valley sophomore Sammi Madden (3) battles Cherokee Trail junior Isabelle Cruces Alcala during the Class 5A playoff opener on Tuesday, May 7, at the North Area Athletic Complex. Ralston Valley won 3-1 and advanced to the round of 16 on Friday, May 10. Credit: Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

Things got a little weirder when a fast-moving squall of wind, rain and snow actually delayed the game by about 10 minutes midway through the first half.

Ralston Valley had the most possession and scoring chances, but late in the second half the game was still tied at 1-1.

“I don’t know if I would call it frustrating,” Ralston Valley coach Kamee Morwood said of the Mustangs dominating scoring opportunities but being unable to break the tie. “It’s scary because we’ve played in games like this before where you go, go, go and then your opponent has one transition and it goes in.”

Greason finally managed to break the tie in the 75th minute. Her corner curled close to the goal mouth. Cherokee Trail junior goalkeeper Kiley Hyde got a fist on the ball, but it wasn’t enough and the ball went into the back of the net to give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.

“We knew the build-up was coming. We knew the goal was coming,” Morwood said. “You just hope it happens before one of those transition moments.”

Then it was Ralston Valley senior goalkeeper Margot Mulhern’s turn to come out big. The Cougars got some pressure in the Mustangs’ defensive zone in the final minutes. A floating shot looked destined to go under the crossbar, but Mulhern made a leaping save and tipped the ball over the crossbar with less than a minute to play to prevent the equalizer.

“I ended up having to make the save,” Mulhern said. “I work with that in practice. It was kind of a routine rescue for me.”

Ralston Valley has conceded just five goals during its current 10-game winning streak.

“Margot started here at the end of the season,” Morwood said. “She keeps us in games. You can’t ask her more than that.”

Cherokee Trail was awarded a corner after Mulhern’s save, but the ball was headed out of danger and freshman Evilyn Morwood was able to clear the ball out of the goal area at the feet of Greason.

“I saw her (Hyde) go in when they got the corner,” Greason said of the Cougars pulling their goalie forward on the corner. “When I saw the goalkeeper come out, I knew my teammates were good at kicking corners. When Evilyn held the ball out to me, I knew the goalkeeper wasn’t there. I just left.”

Greason ran down the field and finally kicked the ball into the empty net with 26.7 seconds left to advance the Mustangs to the second round.

“I’m super proud that they went after it in the second half,” Morwood said. “They didn’t want this to be their last game. They kept going, going, going until it was over. It worked out well for us tonight.”

It worked out well for the Jeffco League in the opening round. No. No. 16 Valor Christian, No. 19 Columbine and No. 29 Arvada West all joined Ralston Valley in the round of 16 on Friday. A-West earned its biggest win in the opening round with a shootout victory against No. 4 Cherry Creek.

Dennis Pleuss is director of sports information for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, visit CHSAANow.com.